Dogs Aren't People. Why PETA Is Wrong About the 'Dog Whisperer'

Phil Jackson, 'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson (R) is greeted by "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan as Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss (L) watches on at the Toyota Training Center in Los Angeles December 30, 2005. Millan was there doing a show with Buss's dog, Princess. |

The Humane Society reports well over 2.4 million healthy cats and dogs are put down annually in U.S. animal shelters. That works out to be just over one euthanized every 13 seconds.

This statistic is heartbreaking to owners of barking, aggressive, or otherwise uncontrollable dogs. Dogs are man's best friend. But what happens when a Chihuahua is dominant, nervous, and draws blood whenever anyone gets near to it? What happens to a pitbull that goes after babies, is food aggressive, or wants to kill every dog it sees?

Cesar Millan, Lassie
Dog trainer Cesar Millan poses with Lassie at 2008 Primetime Creative Arts Awards in Los Angeles September 13, 2008. |

Enter Cesar Millan. Millan is dog's best friend.

Cesar Millan has saved the lives of thousands and thousands of dogs. Millan focuses on rehabilitating severely aggressive dogs and is the founder of the Dog Psychology Center in California. His training school for dogs and its television program spinoff have given millions of dog owners hope of having friendly, healthy, balanced animal companions. Unfortunately, the "dog whisperer" often finds himself on the sharp end of criticisms from environmentalists and animal-rights advocates.

They call him a bully, and a misogynist. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an environmentalist rights group, calls the dogs in Cesar's care "victims" and "terrorized," and his methods "animal cruelty in its purest form."

Please bite me.

It is hard to understand why so-called "animal lovers" have so much blind hatred for a man who has devoted his entire life to dogs and rescued tens of thousands from certain death. Even a little research uncovers that Cesar has a serious passion and love for canines.

Rather than facing the heartbreak of giving up their pets, or euthanizing them, huge numbers of dog owners have used Cesar's dog training techniques to positively change the lives of aggressive, dangerous, or neurotic pets.

A few weeks ago environmentalists found a new excuse to place Millan in the crosshairs. An investigation was opened by the Los Angeles County Animal Control after a clip from his National Geographic television series showed a dog attacking and injuring a pig at Millan's training center.

A network spokesperson issued a statement defending their longtime star after allegations of animal cruelty arose against Millan. The network made the point that viewers who saw the run in between the pig and the dog were unable to see the full context.

Environmentalists will not be content until they can bully Millan off the air. They continue to drum up support and petitions to end his career.

What is missing from the debate is an acknowledgment that dogs aren't people — they think differently.

Millan insists that one must understand the animal's nature if there is to be any hope of having a balanced, happy, well-trained dog.

James Wanliss
James Wanliss, Ph.D., is Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC.

In other words, dogs are not babies. It is not cruel and unusual, nor will it harm the delicate psychology of a canine, when an owner acts like the alpha male or female of a wolf pack.

Animals are often unpredictable, and it is not surprising, therefore, that Cesar will have incidents of unpleasantness when working with untrained dogs seeking to assert their own dominance. Somehow animal-rights activists overlook the frequent scenes in the dog whisperer television show where an aggressive dog draws blood from a human. Do these people even own dogs?

In the past few decades a "Green" view of the world has become dominant. We used to understand our place in the world, but today many people think of pets as their children. Contrary to the view of the founder of animal rights group PETA, it is not true that "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

To disagree with the sentiment does not imply that one does not love animals. Rather, it appreciates the proper place of animals in the grand scheme of things. Animals are beautiful creatures. And humans are beautiful too. But we are not the same. Humans are in a class of our own, quite separate from, and superior to, trees and animals.

This is the Christian position, which teaches that human beings are alone, of all God's beautiful creatures, the image of God. Some people may object to that simply because it as a religious position. However, they fail to appreciate that the Green position is equally religious. So it is not a matter of whether one chooses a religious position, but which religion will be our guide.

Nature religion rejects the position that some life-forms have greater value than others. That is why animal-rights activists are so twisted in knots by Cesar Millan. Cesar acts almost as if he is god to the dogs he cares for.

Nature religion considers it arrogant when Christians say that man is the image of God, preferring a view that erases any meaningful distinction between man and nature; in Green spirituality life is fundamentally one.

There is a chair in the department of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. On it is an inscription with the following words, set there at the behest of Sir William Hamilton: "The greatest thing in the world is man; and the greatest thing in man is mind."

Arrogant? Or cold, hard fact?

Thoughtful, Biblical balance is a definite need.

James Wanliss, Ph.D., is Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC. He is a Senior Fellow and Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and author of Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed physics articles, has held the NSF CAREER award, and does research in space science and nonlinear dynamical systems under grants from NASA and NSF.

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